An important aspect of the COVID-19 response has been making sure that emergency messaging reaches as many South Carolinians as possible. In recognition of the Americans With Disabilities Act anniversary this week, we wanted to highlight how DHEC and partners made sure this messaging reached the deaf and hard of hearing living in and visiting our state.
Throughout the response, DHEC has worked with our partners, including the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD), to assure that important information is accessible to those with hearing disabilities through American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and closed captioning.
SCEMD and DHEC worked to make sure that ASL interpreters were on-camera for Gov. Henry McMaster’s press conferences and COVID-19 updates, broadcast live throughout the state and on South Carolina ETV through the pandemic.
One of these interpreters, Josie McDaniel-Burkett, also worked with DHEC on a series of public service announcements completely in ASL, following the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. McDaniel-Burkett is the Director of Interpreting Services at South Carolina Interpreting Services for the Deaf, who provides ASL support throughout major emergencies that occur in our state – including public health and natural disasters.
DHEC has also put special effort into transcribing closed captions for all our public service announcements and videos posted to YouTube and other social media platforms. The COVID-19 media briefings are also captioned, using automatic captioning software through Facebook and YouTube. We have also worked within the agency to offer Spanish closed captioning on our Spanish language PSAs.